Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category
A wonderful message from Sue of Sue Dreamwalker.
Reders will recall that last Saturday, under the post title of And we’re back!, I offered a beautiful story told by the coal-mouse bird about the power of change. It included this sentence: “You see, it takes just one snowflake to make a difference.”
In a very real sense, an example of that power of one snowflake was perfectly conveyed in Sue’s post a few days previously.
Just read it, republished here with Sue’s blessings, and you will understand.
What do you see in this Reality?
Do not your eyes view what is real to see?
Can you not touch the tangible fusion?
Or do we gaze into the ethers of illusion,
What trickery mocks us as we take in the lies
Binding our thoughts in roots of indoctrination
Following the herd, bleating like sheep
Held captive, half asleep.
What happened to the land of the Free?
Conform or suffer, or pay the penalty
What is your reality?
Come, let me walk you through the misty vale.
To where this illusion significantly pales
We are magnificent magicians whose thoughts cast their magic
Where all is possible, where to doubt is tragic
Seek and Find, let go of fear
Dance in joy as Light penetrates your sphere
For you have forgotten our Time’s lost spell
As into the abyss of darkness you dwell.
Open your eyes and open your hearts.
Let the Light dispel all dark
Fear nothing, hate less, and embrace ALL
Seek a new illusion before you fall.
Stop following blindly, grasp hold of Love today
Remember your tomorrows, forget your yesterdays
Reach for the memory held high up in the stars
And heal from within, let go of all your scars
Sit in the silence; begin to know who you are
As illusion drifts away revealing Ancient Stars
Your time is but a moment, live each moment well,
For soon the illusion shatters, broken like a spell.
© Sue Dreamwalker 2010-2014 All rights reserved.
I resurrected this poem which I published 4 years ago.. As it seems we are bombarded on all sides from the negative energies which are being put out..
Detach and spend some time in your Quiet zones of thought.. Bring in the Peace around you, and know that we are Magnificent BEings who have remarkable powers..
The Power of Thought!
What we Think we Create
We are the ones creating the chaos… So choose to create Peace.. Don’t allow yourselves to get caught up within the Fear being put out..
Know your time is but a moment, Live each moment well
For soon the Illusion shatters,
Broken like a Spell.
Enjoy your week
Whatever is going on in the world, whatever has the power to create fear in our minds, in the end it comes down to another power, the power of thought, and our choice of the behaviors that we offer the world.
That is why dogs are so important. Because they almost predominantly love sharing and living their lives in the company of humans.
Do you remember when puppy Oliver came to live with us?
Another picture of Oliver sitting on the lap of yours truly taken in the last couple of days.
I am delighted to present the following guest post from Ruth Nina Welsh.
We seem to be on a bit of a roll in terms of seeking a better self-understanding.
Last Thursday I offered up some thoughts and reflections on meditation Quietening one’s self down and then the following day presented the film Inner worlds, Outer worlds, the wonderful film by Canadian film maker, musician and meditation teacher Daniel Schmidt. Daniel described his film “as the external reflection of his own adventures in meditation.” (And did you read the fascinating comments by ‘R’?)
Anyway, to today.
I forget how Ruth and I made contact with each other but that’s immaterial to today’s guest post. What is material is that we did make contact and through Ruth’s website I became aware of her talents. In her own words:
BE YOUR OWN COUNSELLOR & COACH shares psychology, memoirs and creativity to help and inspire you to live a happier, more fulfilling and purposeful life.
WHO AM I? – I’m a freelance writer, specialising in lifestyle, wellbeing and self-help; a former counsellor & coach and an erstwhile musician. I have a diverse educational background – with degrees in arts and law – but psychology is my passion. You can find out more about me on my personal site.
- As a singer-songwriter, I released my debut acoustic album – As I Breathe – in 2000.
- As a counsellor and coach, I was in private practice from 2008-2011.
- As a freelancer in the publishing field, I’ve been involved as an editor, formatter, copy-editor, proofreader and I’ve also managed book projects and manuscript submissions.
- Now, as a freelance writer, I write articles and guest posts, and continue to build this free online self-help resource.
So back to the connection between Ruth and me.
A couple of weeks ago, Ruth asked me if I would like to publish an essay from her.
I read it and replied without hesitation that I would be honoured to publish said essay.
Thus with no further ado here it is. (And do read to the end to be informed about a very generous free offer from Ruth.)
The Struggle To Be Authentic
Of all the challenges we face in life, the struggle to be authentic is a vital one. It’s not always recognised that being authentic – being true to ourselves – is essential for our own wellbeing and happiness. We struggle with authenticity because it’s often hard to reveal the truth about how we feel. And, as strange as it may seem, sometimes we don’t even know how we truly feel. It can be painful and difficult to begin to speak from a place of truth and to unmask hidden feelings which may be covered over by years of denial, trauma and people pleasing.
How we learn to be authentic in childhood
Being authentic and true to ourselves is not innate; it’s something we learn how to do. We learn from those close to us as we grow up. As children we observe our parents, or others who care for us. We notice how truthful and genuine they are. We also learn that there is power in the gap between how we feel and what we actually reveal to others. During our childhood we sometimes find that it can be unwise to say what we honestly feel or think, it can get us into trouble. Bruising judgements from our parents can mean we stay quiet rather than speak up. If a parent constantly criticises and mocks us it’s likely that we’ll modify our behaviour around them. We’ll try to please them and avoid unnecessary pain by saying what they want to hear – even if this is not our own truth. Not being true to ourselves can also follow a traumatic event where we may feel the need to hide our feelings or bury painful grief. All of these things and more mean that, piece by piece, we can lose connection with ourselves and how we truly feel.
The struggle to be authentic in adulthood
As we leave childhood behind us we take the lessons we learn from it into our adult lives. If we felt unable to speak up truthfully when younger then this usually doesn’t change when we become an adult. We can find ourselves unable to speak up within an intimate relationship, downtrodden in our work life and unable to fully connect in our friendships. Over time, if we keep speaking the words only others want to hear – words that are not our own truth – we can lose touch with what we actually feel. We can lose touch with our true selves, our true desires and our true needs and wants. Having been a spokesperson for others for so long we can find ourselves lost and adrift, not knowing how we truly feel about anything, not knowing who we really are. And this can lead us to a treacherous place – living behind a mask, fearing disapproval, and not connecting at a genuine level with anyone. This damaging cycle will continue unless, or until, we see the need for change and realise that being authentic is vital for our own happiness and wellbeing.
Learning to be authentic
It’s difficult to be authentic when this has not been our normal way of being. We may have been used to white lies, outright untruths, or just unconsciously denying our own thoughts and feelings. We may have lived in a family where half-truths and masks were the norm. We may have had to hide our own feelings to survive. This is then our problem: without a template of truth-telling and speaking out in a genuine way, we often struggle to be authentic. We may even have to learn how to be honest and authentic from the bottom up.
Two steps to authenticity
As a starting point, our task is two-fold and can be seen in two distinct steps. Firstly, to find out how we actually feel about things and, secondly, to begin to reveal how we feel to others. This sounds straightforward but doing these two things can be intensely challenging. We are often beaten down by life, our words may have been ridiculed, our self-esteem may be low. We can feel worthless and feel that what we have to say doesn’t matter. If you are in this place, then the most important thing to understand, as a given, is that what you have to say does matter and you have a right to say it. Whatever you have learned in the past and whatever you have been told, know these vital, universal truths:
Each of us has value, has a voice, and we are entitled to speak out and have our own precious, individual opinions heard.
First Step: How do you feel?
With that as your starting point – that your true, individual voice matters – you can begin the first step: to find out how you actually feel. This can be easier said than done. You’ve spoken the words others wanted to hear for so long now that you may not actually know how you genuinely feel. To begin to make inroads into this takes time, an effort of will, and an increase in your own self-awareness. One of the easiest ways to begin this process is to record your thoughts, feelings and opinions down on paper. In a private way, in your own journal, you can start to look and search inside yourself for how you actually feel about things – what you believe, what your opinions are, what you want from life. You can uncover what your own personal likes and dislikes are – not to please others, but to please yourself. With time and patience your awareness will increase and you’ll begin to hear your own inner voice speak out. It may be a whisper at first, but, if nurtured, this will develop. Gradually you will begin to connect with your true self and start to know how you truly feel.
Second Step: Share how you feel
As you begin to know how you feel you can start to embark on the second step on the road to being authentic and true to yourself – revealing and sharing how you feel. You can begin to speak up for yourself and share your own beliefs and opinions. Your voice does not need to be loud or demanding, but with calm authority you can learn to speak out. This can be a difficult process at the beginning but try starting this process by speaking out in safe emotional surroundings. Find friends who are supportive and then begin to honestly and truthfully share your thoughts and feelings with them. As you begin to know how you feel, and start to voice your own opinions, you can create more meaningful relationships. You can connect at a deeper emotional level – from a place of truth and honesty.
It sounds simple, being true to ourselves, but it is a continual struggle and it is fraught with difficulty. Fraught with judgement, disapproval and fear. But the courageous speak out from a place of truth and in doing this they make deep, meaningful and honest connections. This impacts on all parts of a person’s life: from choices made to the quality of relationships enjoyed. Being authentic becomes a way of being, a way of life. With the voice of authenticity comes true connection and it is well worth the struggle it costs us. For if we are just a spokesperson for others, or a mouthpiece for others – fake, in other words – then what value and meaning can we attach to our own lives and to our relationships? And if we are not being true to ourselves and genuinely authentic in our words and deeds then who are we in this world and what is the point of our life?
© 2014 Ruth Nina Welsh
So to that special offer.
Ruth asked me to include this invitation for all readers of Learning from Dogs.
Simply if you go across to Ruth’s website Be Your Own Counsellor & Coach and sign up as an email subscriber, you will get the free ebook when it becomes available in the autumn!! The sign-up box is to the top right-hand corner of the home page, just above the following:
Free Ebook For Subscribers – Coming Autumn 2014
FREE to Subscribers. The first book in my series will be free to subscribers of this site and also available on Amazon as an ebook.
Subscribe above to receive this free book when it becomes available.
Do you share your life with a dog? Learn!
To awaken one’s true self, one must awaken the entire world.
As you may gather from the sub-heading above, this is not a typical post today! (If there is a typical post in this place!) In fact, I think this is the first time in over five years of publishing Learning from Dogs that I have devoted a post solely to a full-length film.
But the film so perfectly picks up the theme of yesterday’s post, Quietening one’s self down, that it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Inner Worlds was created by Canadian film maker, musician and meditation teacher Daniel Schmidt. The film could be described as the external reflection of his own adventures in meditation. As Daniel came to meditative insights, he realized that these same insights were discovered over and over in spiritual traditions around the world and that all traditions share a common mystical underpinning.
He realized that it is this core experience that connects us not only to the mysterious source of all creation, but to each other as well. Along with his wife Eva, Daniel currently lives in a log home tucked away in a forest of tall pine trees located in Ontario, Canada. It is in this beautiful setting where they run a meditation and yoga center called Breathe True Yoga www.breathetrue.com.
Daniel has studied meditation from the traditions of Buddhism, Taoism, the Yogic traditions of India, as well as the mystical traditions of various cultures, and has come to his own teaching method helping point people towards their own inner wisdom and knowledge. “Meditation is not so much a technique to master as it is a re-orientation of the heart; a selfless act of love and surrender into the mystery and stillness at the core of our being“.
Daniel has always had a strong life connection with sound and music. He has been a composer for over 20 years with an extensive library of music venturing into many genres and styles, and he is the President and CEO of REM Publishing Ltd. Music is not something to be comprehended merely with the hearing faculty. The vibratory nature of the universe is understood when we recognize that everything is music.
Eva has studied and teaches chakra yoga, hatha yoga, meditation and healing through expressive arts. She has integrated yogic traditions from around the world and attended the Pyramid Yoga Center in Thailand for extensive yoga training. Eva is a sound healer, artist and was a strong creative force in the editing room as “Inner Worlds” was being created. Together Dan and Eva were the Shiva and Shakti forces that birthed the film into the world.
It became clear during the making of the film that Inner Worlds Outer Worlds had to be released for free for the benefit of all beings. In the ancient traditions the dharma or “the truth” was always taught freely and never for personal gain or profit in order to preserve the purity of the teachings. It is Daniel and Eva’s belief that to awaken one’s true self, one must awaken the entire world. Daniel and Eva have started the Awaken the World initiative www.awakentheworld.com to bring the ancient knowledge back to the earth in order to restore balance and harmony on the planet.
If you want to dip into the film then here’s the trailer.
But many, including Jean and me, will want to watch the full film.
The website Top Documentary Films offers this summary (the links below will take you to other films on meditation):
Inner Worlds could be described as the external reflection of Daniel Schmidt’s own adventures in meditation.
Akasha is the unmanifested, the “nothing” or emptiness which fills the vacuum of space. As Einstein realized, empty space is not really empty. Saints, sages and yogis who have looked within themselves have also realized that within the emptiness is unfathomable power, a web of information or energy which connects all things.
The Spiral. The Pythagorean philosopher Plato hinted enigmatically that there was a golden key that unified all of the mysteries of the universe. The golden key is the intelligence of the logos, the source of the primordial om. One could say that it is the mind of God. The source of this divine symmetry is the greatest mystery of our existence.
The Serpent and the Lotus. The spiral has often been represented by the snake, the downward current, while the bird or blooming lotus flower has represented the upward current or transcendence.The ancient traditions taught that a human being can become a bridge extending from the outer to the inner, from gross to subtle, from the lower chakras to the higher chakras.
Beyond Thinking. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We live our lives pursuing happiness “out there” as if it is a commodity. We have become slaves to our own desires and craving. Happiness isn’t something that can be pursued or purchased like a cheap suit.
So here is the film:
Part 1 – Akasha
Part 2 – The Spiral
Part 3 – The Serpent and the Lotus
Part 4 – Beyond Thinking
To close, let me offer these links.
The Inner Worlds Movie website is here.
As each film link on YouTube notes:
All 4 parts of the film can be found at www.innerworldsmovie.com.
Music from the film can be found at www.spiritlegend.com.
Sacred geometry posters and products can be found at: http://www.zazzle.com/awakentheworld
My closing thought? I can’t do better than to repeat this from the film’s website:
It is Daniel and Eva’s belief that to awaken one’s true self, one must awaken the entire world.
This strikes me as very pertinent, for I see a world sorely in need of a new awakening.
A sense of unity.
A short film by Alan Watts and Terence McKenna. A film that makes a perfect postscript to yesterday’s post: The tracks we leave.
Published on Mar 3, 2013
Alan Watts and Terence McKenna talk about our need for a sense of unity as our global problems are getting worse and we have become enemies of our planet and each other.
Music: Carbon Based Lifeforms – Comsat (Hydroponic Garden – 2003 [Ultimae Records])
There is a website in memory of the late Alan Watts here.
“We will be forever known by the tracks we leave.”
When I saw that proverb I was deeply affected. Hence me taking the photograph.
It was seen etched onto a glass panel that was part of the otter enclosure at our nearby Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center, just a few miles from where we live in Merlin, OR.
Here’s why I was so affected.
My draft book of the same name as this blog is slowly coming together and I’m at the 30,000-word mark. A while ago, John Hurlburt, a good friend of this blog, was chatting to me and he spoke about the “interconnectedness of all conscious life”. It immediately appealed to me as a chapter in the book.
But while it was obvious to me that all conscious life is connected, for some time I struggled to achieve any clarity about what I wanted to write. Seeing that proverb kicked off the journey towards clarity.
Thus, today, I wanted to share the steps of that journey so far.
Over on the Skeptical Science blogsite there is a post, dated 15th April, 2010, with the title of Earth’s five mass extinction events. The author, John Cook, opens:
As climate changes, a major question is whether nature can adapt to the changing conditions? The answer lies in the past. Throughout Earth’s history, there have been periods where climate changed dramatically. The response was mass extinction events, when many species went extinct followed by a very slow recovery. The history of coral reefs gives us an insight into the nature of these events as reefs are so enduring and the fossil record of corals is relatively well known (Veron 2008). What we find is reefs were particularly impacted in mass extinctions, taking many millions of years to recover. These intervals are known as “reef gaps”.
So what, one might ask?
Well, forget about millions of years ago. Just 12 days ago, there was a news item released by Stanford University. It read in full:
July 24, 2014
Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event
Stanford Biology Professor Rodolfo Dirzo and his colleagues warn that this “defaunation” could have harmful downstream effects on human health.
The planet’s current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.
In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what
appears to be the early days of the planet’s sixth mass biological extinction event.
Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.
And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of “Anthropocene defaunation.”
Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.
Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.
Although these species represent a relatively low percentage of the animals at risk, their loss would have trickle-down effects that could shake the stability of other species and, in some cases, even human health.
For instance, previous experiments conducted in Kenya have isolated patches of land from megafauna such as zebras, giraffes and elephants, and observed how an ecosystem reacts to the removal of its largest species. Rather quickly, these areas become overwhelmed with rodents. Grass and shrubs increase and the rate of soil compaction decreases. Seeds and shelter become more easily available, and the risk of predation drops.
Consequently, the number of rodents doubles – and so does the abundance of the disease-carrying ectoparasites that they harbor.
“Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,” said Dirzo, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle.”
The scientists also detailed a troubling trend in invertebrate defaunation. Human population has doubled in the past 35 years; in the same period, the number of invertebrate animals – such as beetles, butterflies, spiders and worms – has decreased by 45 percent.
As with larger animals, the loss is driven primarily by loss of habitat and global climate disruption, and could have trickle-up effects in our everyday lives.
For instance, insects pollinate roughly 75 percent of the world’s food crops, an estimated 10 percent of the economic value of the world’s food supply. Insects also play a critical role in nutrient cycling and decomposing organic materials, which helps ensure ecosystem productivity. In the United States alone, the value of pest control by native predators is estimated at $4.5 billion annually.
Dirzo said that the solutions are complicated. Immediately reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation would help, but these approaches need to be tailored to individual regions and situations. He said he hopes that raising awareness of the ongoing mass extinction – and not just of large, charismatic species – and its associated consequences will help spur change.
“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well,” Dirzo said. “Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.”
The coauthors on the report include Hillary S. Young, University of California, Santa Barbara; Mauro Galetti, Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Nick J.B. Isaac, of the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England; and Ben Collen, of University College London.
For more Stanford experts on ecology and other topics, visit Stanford Experts.
It hardly requires any imagination to realise that what we humans need in order to live, air, food, and clean water, is utterly dependant on us humans caring for the planet that sustains us. It’s all too easy just to take for granted that we will always have air, food and clean water. Now go back and read that last sentence from Professor Dirzo. [my emphasis]
We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well. Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.
The tracks we leave! H’mmm.
Let me move on in my journey.
Over on the EarthSky blogsite there was an item about the mysterious giant crater that appeared suddenly in Siberia.
Mystery crater in Yamal peninsula probably caused by methane release
Thawing permafrost likely allowed methane gas to be released, creating the large hole in permafrost found in northern Russia, says the Russian team that investigated it.
UPDATE July 31, 2014.
Stories are popping up fast in various media this afternoon about a likely source of a reported, mysterious hole in permafrost in the Yamal region of northern Russia. This hole was
spotted by a helicopter pilot in mid-July; reindeer herders reported a second hole some days later. Eric Holthaus of Slate said that there is now:
… new (and definitive) evidence … that the Siberian holes were created via methane released from warming permafrost.
The evidence has come via the journal Nature, which published a story on its website today (July 31) featuring the findings of Andrei Plekhanov, a senior researcher at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia, and his team. This is the team that was sent in to investigate the first hole shortly after it was found. Holthaus said:
That team measured methane concentrations up to 50,000 times standard levels inside the crater.
The story in Nature said:
Air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July … Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane …
Plekhanov and his team believe that it is linked to the abnormally hot Yamal summers of 2012 and 2013, which were warmer than usual by an average of about 5°C. As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground.
Holthaus pointed out:
Last week, the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin interviewed a Russian scientist who had also visited the hole and came to similar conclusions.
This newly reported evidence, just coming to light today, seems particularly scary given the story earlier this week about what the University of Stockholm called “vast methane plumes” found by scientists aboard the icebreaker Oden, which is now exploring and measuring methane release from the floor of the Arctic Ocean.
Build-up and release of gas from thawing permafrost most probable explanation, says Russian team.
My last step in the journey about our interconnectedness involves water.
Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.
Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water — 500 times as much — to produce the food we consume.
1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.
Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.
The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.
Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers — China, India, and the United States.
Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly predict how aquifer depletion will reduce its grain harvest. It will soon be totally dependent on imports from the world market or overseas farming projects for its grain.
While falling water tables are largely hidden, rivers that run dry or are reduced to a trickle before reaching the sea are highly visible. Among this group that has limited outflow during at least part of the year are the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern United States; the Yellow, the largest river in northern China; the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt; the Indus, which supplies most of Pakistan’s irrigation water; and the Ganges in India’s densely populated Gangetic basin.
(The rest of this important article including the many useful links may be read here.)
Now, despite the despondent theme of the contents of this post, I am not beating a ‘doom and gloom’ drum. What I am trying to point out is that we are all interconnected. Not just all of mankind but all conscious life. Ergo, the destruction of natural habitats, the loss of every species, even the unwarranted killing of a wild animal is, in a very real and tangible way, the destruction of our habitat, the loss of our species and the unwarranted killing of future generations of homo sapiens.
It seems that whichever way we look the interconnectedness of all conscious life is staring us full in the face. The utter madness of mankind’s group blindness is beyond comprehension.
It takes an ancient proverb from a people that lived in harmony with the planet to speak the truth. We ignore it at our peril.
The more that man tries to interfere the more that man screws up.
Jeannie and I subscribe to Time Magazine. This week’s edition had a pretty eye-catching cover that required a second look.
That cover referred to the lead article concerning invasive species, “From giant snails to Asian carp, alien wildlife is on the move.“, written by Bryan Walsh. The essence of the article is that man’s global activities are responsible, albeit often unwittingly, for the movement of a wide range of species across national borders. My own reaction to the article was that it was typical of the many ‘scare’ stories the media present but that at the end of the day, nothing will change. However the last two paragraphs of the article did resonate with me.
Human beings have become the dominant force on the planet, so much so that many scientists believe we’ve entered an entirely new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. We have already been shaping the planet unintentionally, through greenhouse-gas emissions and global trade and every other facet of modern existence. The challenge now is to take responsibility for that power over the planet and use it for the right ends – all the while knowing that there is no single correct answer, no lost state of grace we can beat back toward.
How we respond to the thickening invasions that we ourselves loosed will be part of that answer – which is only just. There is one species that can claim to be the most dominant invasive of all time. From its origins in Africa, this species has spread to every corner of the world and every kind of climate. Everywhere it goes, it displaces natives, leaving extinction in its wake, altering habitat to suit its needs, with little regard for the ecological impact. Its numbers have grown nearly a millionfold, and its spread shows no sign of stopping. If that invasive species sounds familiar, it should. It’s us.
Thus with that article from Time in mind, it was very pertinent to see the latest essay from George Monbiot. It reinforces, in spades, the sentiment expressed by Bryan Walsh in those paragraphs above and is republished here on Learning from Dogs with the generous permission of George Monbiot.
A One Way Street to Oblivion
As soon as an animal becomes extinct, a new bill proposes, it will be classified as “non-native”.
By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 21st July 2014
Can any more destructive and regressive measures be crammed into one bill?
Already, the Infrastructure Bill, which, as time goes by, has ever less to do with infrastructure, looks like one of those US monstrosities into which a random collection of demands by corporate lobbyists are shoved, in the hope that no one notices.
So far it contains (or is due to contain) the following assaults on civilisation and the natural world:
– It exempts fracking companies from the trespass laws
– Brings in a legal requirement for the government to maximise the economic recovery of petroleum from the UK’s continental shelf. This is directly at odds with another legal requirement: to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions
– Abandons the government’s commitment to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2016
– Introduces the possibility (through Clauses 21 and 22) of a backdoor route to selling off the public forest estate. When this was attempted before, it was thwarted by massive public protest.
– further deregulates the town and country planning system, making life even harder for those who wish to protect natural beauty and public amenities
– promotes new road building, even though the total volume of road traffic has flatlined since 2002.
Enough vandalism? Not at all. There’s yet another clause aimed at suppressing the natural world, which has, so far, scarcely been discussed outside parliament. If the Infrastructure Bill is passed in its current state, any animal species that “is not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state” will be classified as non-native and subject to potential “eradication or control”. What this is doing in an infrastructure bill is anyone’s guess.
At first wildlife groups believed it was just poor drafting, accidentally creating the impression that attempts to re-establish species which have become extinct here – such as short-haired bumblebees or red kites – would in future be stamped out. But the most recent Lords debate scotched that hope: it became clear that this a deliberate attempt to pre-empt democratic choice, in the face of rising public enthusiasm for the return of our lost and enchanting wildlife.
As Baroness Parminter, who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill, pointed out, it currently creates
“a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild, it ceases to be native.”
She also made the point that it’s not just extinct species which from now on will be treated as non-native, but, as the bill now stands, any species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Among those in Schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.
After the usual orotund time-wasting by aristocratic layabouts (“my ancestor Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, who was known as the great Sir Ewen … killed the last wolf in Scotland” etc), the minister promoting the bill, Baroness Kramer, made it clear that the drafting was no accident. All extinct species, it appears, are to be treated as non-native and potentially invasive. At no point did she mention any of the benefits their re-establishment might bring, such as restoring ecological function and bringing wonder and delight and enchantment back to this depleted land.
Here is a list, taken from Feral, of a few of the animals which have become extinct recently (in ecological terms) and which probably meet the bill’s new definition of non-native: “not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state”. Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it’s clear that a debate about which species we might welcome back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate. There’s a longer list, with fuller explanations and a consideration of their suitability for re-establishment, in the book.
European Beaver: became extinct in Britain in the mid-18th Century, at the latest. Officially re-established in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll. Unofficially in the catchment of the River Tay and on the River Otter, in Devon.
Wolf: The last clear record is 1621 (not 1743 as commonly supposed). It was killed in Sutherland. As far as I can determine, neither Sir Ewen Cameron nor any of the other blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits from whom Lord Cameron of Dillington is descended were involved.
Lynx: The last known fossil remains date from the 6th Century AD, but possible cultural records extend into the 9th Century.
Wild Boar: The last truly wild boar on record were killed on the orders of Henry III in the Forest of Dean, in 1260. Four small populations in southern England, established after escapes and releases from farms and collections.
Elk or Moose (Alces alces): The youngest bones found in Britain are 3,900 years old. Temporarily released in 2008 into a 450-acre enclosure on the Alladale Estate, Sutherland.
Reindeer: The most recent fossil evidence is 8,300 years old. A free-ranging herd grazes on and around Cairn Gorm in the Scottish Highlands.
Wild horse: The most recent clearly-established fossil is 9,300 years old. Animals belonging to the last surviving subspecies of wild horse, Przewalski’s (Equus ferus przewalskii), graze Eelmoor Marsh in Hampshire.
Forest bison, or wisent: Likely to have become extinct here soon before the peak of glaciation, between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. A herd was temporarily established at Alladale in 2011.
Brown bear: probably exterminated around 2000 years ago.
Wolverine: survived here until roughly 8,000 years ago.
Lion: the last record of a lion in the region is a bone from an animal that lived in the Netherlands – then still connected to Britain – 10,700 years ago.
Spotted hyaena: around 11,000 years ago.
Hippopotamus: it was driven out of Britain by the last glaciation, around 115,000 years ago, and hunted to extinction elsewhere in Europe about 30,000 years ago.
Grey whale: the most recent palaentological remains, from Devon, belonged to a whale that died around 1610 AD.
Walrus: late Bronze Age, in the Shetland Islands.
European Sturgeon: possibly as recently as the 19th Century.
Blue stag beetle: probably 19th Century.
Eagle owl: the last certain record is from the Mesolithic, 9,000-10,000 years old . But a possible Iron Age bone has been found at Meare in Somerset. Now breeding in some places, after escaping from collections.
Goshawk: wiped out in the 19th Century. Unofficially re-established in the 20th Century, through a combination of deliberate releases and escapes from falconers.
Common crane: last evidence of breeding in Britain was in 1542. Cranes re-established themselves through migration in the Norfolk Broads in 1979, and have bred there since then. Now breeding in two other places in eastern England. Re-introduced in 2010 to the Somerset Levels.
White Stork: last recorded nesting in Edinburgh in 1416. In 2004 a pair tried to breed on an electricity pole in Yorkshire. In 2012 a lone bird built a nest on top of a restaurant in Nottinghamshire.
Spoonbill: the last breeding records are 1602 in Pembrokeshire and 1650 in East Anglia. In 2010 a breeding colony established itself at Holkham in Norfolk.
Night Heron: last bred here in either the 16th or 17th Century, at Greenwich. Today it is a scarce visitor.
Dalmatian Pelican: remains have been found from the Bronze Age in the Cambridgeshire Fens and from the Iron Age in the Somerset levels, close to Glastonbury. A single mediaeval bone has been found in the same place.
These and many others are now to be classified as officially non-native, unless this nonsense can be stopped.
Incidentally, determining what is and isn’t a native species, let alone what “should” or “should not” be living here, is a much more complicated business than you might imagine, as Ken Thompson’s interesting book, Where Do Camels Belong?, makes clear. He also points out that some species which are initially greeted with horror and considered an ecological menace soon settle down as local wildlife learns to prey on them or to avoid them. Sometimes they perform a useful ecological role by filling the gaps created by extinction. He overstates his case, and glosses over some real horror stories, but his book is an important counterweight to attempts to create a rigid distinction between native and non-native wildlife.
Many species introduced to this country by human beings are now cherished as honorary members of our native wildlife. Here are just a few I’ve come across. How many of you knew that they were all brought here by people?:
Isn’t this an interesting subject? Unfortunately government ministers seem to know to know nothing about it and to care even less. They are crashing through the middle of delicate interactions between people and the natural world like bulldozers in a rainforest.
I will close today’s post with another, very recent, story in The Guardian, that opens, thus:
Wild beaver kits born in Devon
Thursday 17 July 2014
One of the first wild beavers to be seen in England in centuries and due to be taken into captivity has given birth to three young.
A wild beaver due to be taken into captivity has given birth to at least three young.
The young, known as kits, were born to the family of two adult and one juvenile European beavers (Castor fiber) that were spotted living on the river Otter in Devon earlier this year, in what was believed to be the first sighting of the species in the wild in England in 500 years.
Do go and read the full article here.
All that is left for me to do is to quote a little from a recent letter from John Hurlburt.
Our future depends on the air we breathe. Our lives depend upon rivers of living water. Our health requires the blessings of organic agriculture. Our energy streams through us from the cosmos.
We are warrior animals. Peace must come from within. Non-violence is our best choice. We have the magnificent opportunity to wake up as an animal that is grateful and sings in harmony with the Earth.
The present is surrounded by the past and the future. We float on the wings of compassion and wisdom with a sacred responsibility for the Nature of all Creation.
Amen to that!
We receive what we put out!
There are so many aspects of the dog world that we have to learn. Top of the list of what we must learn from dogs is unconditional love.
You all know how if you approach a strange dog with love in your heart, how that dog senses your love immediately and responds in the same loving fashion.
So approach every conscious being in your life with love in your heart. It will truly change the world!
So with that in mind, it seemed very appropriate to follow up yesterday’s post that included the essay by Chris Johnstone on celebration with this short film from Rick Hanson. Especially just now.
Published on Nov 7, 2013
Hardwiring Happiness : The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain. How to overcome the Brain’s Negativity Bias.
Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and the author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, best selling author of Buddha’s Brain, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and an Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.
(Thank you, John.)